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 Post subject: Inflatable choices
PostPosted: Wed Mar 06, 2019 2:31 pm 
knight of the folding kayak realm

Joined: Sat Feb 19, 2011 9:22 am
Posts: 421
Location: Coastal New Jersey
I’ve been thinking about replacing/supplementing my Feathercraft Kurrent for an inflatable to be used in Florida’s Gulf Coast waters during the winter months and as a take-along for casual paddling when traveling. The Innova Safari seemed attractive mostly because of its light weight, easy set-up, small packed size and reputation as good performer for so short a boat and one that would be fun to paddle. And, my wife having been shown a photo of the Safari, without hesitation pronounced it to be “so ugly that it’s cute”. But now it appears that the manufacturer has replaced the original Safari with an version that’s slightly longer and considerably wider which causes me to wonder if this new Safari 330 is, like most inflatables, more barge than boat. Another inflatable that has recently got my attention is the Razorlite 393. The Razorlite has a greater length to width ratio making it potentially more efficient and it’s manufactured using drop-stitch technology that should enhance general performance. The trade off is the greater weight of the Razorlight as well as certain design factors that I find suspect. And I’m not sure just how well it measures up in the highly subjective “fun” category. I really don’t expect any inflatable to perform as well as a skin-on-frame folder any more than I’d expect a folder to perform at the level of a lightweight, monocoque hardshell kayak. At this time I’m simply looking for input from any forum members who have experience with inflatables regardless of their type.

Thanks, Jake


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 Post subject: Re: Inflatable choices
PostPosted: Thu Mar 07, 2019 8:19 am 
lord high faltbotmeister

Joined: Fri Oct 07, 2011 1:51 pm
Posts: 662
Location: Bangkok, Thailand
Hi Jake,

Alternatively, you could look for someone who has a secondhand incept K 40 for sale. Ideal for warm Florida waters due to the possibility of unzipping the deck :-)

_________________
Simon

Feathercraft Wisper, First light 420, Fujita Alpina AL-1 400, Incept k40 (4sale),Nautiraid Geenlander 1, K1, 416 & Narak 460 (sold my 550), Pakboats Quest 135, TRAK 2.0
Wanted:original Advanced Elements Air Fusion
Cape Falcon F1, Beth, Hobie AI


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 Post subject: Re: Inflatable choices
PostPosted: Tue May 07, 2019 4:33 pm 
recent arrival

Joined: Tue May 07, 2019 2:36 am
Posts: 2
Location: Germany, Lake Constance
Hi Jake,

I have several inflatable kayaks and tried several ones. The Safari may be nice for such a short boat - but terrible slow in comparison with every foldable or even Grabner Holiday or Incept K40. But I'm 1,9m tall. A much smaller friend (1,55m) loves short boats :wink:
If you need it light - you can try the older Grabner Holidays from the Hypalon days. They had thinner material than the new ones. Most where even a bit shorter. I have an Holiday II economy. This weights under 12kg and is 3,4m long and holds 4,5psi pressure. The perfect length for one person for this model. The holiday has a perfect flat bottom. This makes them very fast on flat water, but not perfect in the waves. The 4m long model splashes on the waves a bit more - but is a very nice boat on the sea, too. My girlfriend has a new one and we had several long tours on heavy sea around Korsika.

I second siravingmon: If you can handle the weight of the K40 (16kg) - it is one of the best inflatables on the open sea I know. The keel line is not straight - perfect in waves. The unzippable deck is very good for loading stuff inside. On flat water nearly as fast as the holiday, with only small waves (10cm) faster than the holiday. The small rudder is very nice to balance out wind from the side. The material is VERY strong, but it is PU coated fabric. It shows air wicking if you have a leak at the inner surface. Only the coatings are airtight, the fabric not. A leak in the inner coating gets air in the fabric and distributes it around the hole boat and exits the material along all edges. I have such a inner leak which I cannot find and have to top the pressure every 2 hours at the moment. Hypalon, EPDM and I think Nitrilon does not show air wicking. If you need maximum possibility to repair - than stay away from PU. Boats from Hypalon etc. can last many decades. I have ca. 40 years old Semperit Forelle which holds the pressure better than the K40 when new.

I never tried a drop stitched boat, but I don't think the perfect flat bottom is so much fun with waves and tracking. I don't know the reliability either - the material is just to new. Let's see in some decades ;-). In Europe we have completely new and interesting drop stitched boat with keel! But I don't know the quality: https://www.decathlon.co.uk/strenfit-x5 ... 03087.html Negative: the package is bulky and heavy.

It seems, there is no perfect inflatable kayak. At the moment I love my Tasman K40 on the sea and the holiday economy as lightweight small package an rivers. I would love to test the Feathercraft Aironaut, it looks sooooo cool and should be super fast. But it seems you cannot get one of them. And even if, the material is very thin and should be only good in sheltered waters. You wrote in another thread there are used ones to sell? Can you help me get in contact?

edit: I missed your other "inflatable choices" thread before, sorry. So most of my ideas were not new and I read more about the planned usage. Regarding the Nitrilon light: If you don't need the boat lasting for decades and don't plan to scrub over stones and sharp mussels all the time - take it! A less robust boat you have with you is much better than a heavier boat at home. And the thinner material can be very good. My 40yrs old Semperit Forelle and the holiday II economy (15yrs) are with much thinner material than the actuall models of Grabner. Both are 3,6m long and have around 11kg. But they are really robust and I used them with trust on the sea in several feet high waves. With normal use I prefer these older models with thinner material over the new grabner holiday II.

_________________
Incept Tasman K40
Grabner Holiday II economy
Semperit Forelle II
Gugel Rodeo (relabeled prototype Gumotex Traveller with glued spraydeck?)


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 Post subject: Re: Inflatable choices
PostPosted: Sat May 11, 2019 10:04 am 
knight of the folding kayak realm

Joined: Sat Feb 19, 2011 9:22 am
Posts: 421
Location: Coastal New Jersey
A light weight kayak becomes increasingly attractive as a paddler grows older. But lighter weight in a folding or inflatable boat comes with a compromise in durability, or so it seems to me. The Feathercraft Aironaut was fabricated from 420 denier urethane coated nylon. The Innova Safari uses 1200 denier Nitrilon coated polyester and is probably much more durable. But if the paddler is looking for a high performance inflatable that weighs a mere 20 pounds and is not put off by the low initial stability of the Aironaut and will exercise a bit of care in the handling, the Aironaut (and Doug Simpson at Feathercraft still had three Aironauts available last time I checked) might be just the right boat. Now in my 78th year on this lovely planet, such things as weight, ease of getting in and out of the boat (even in light surf) have become increasingly important. If the boat can be paddled easily at, perhaps, 3 mph and designed to minimize weather cocking and made ready for the water in short order without the need for tedious assembly, I think I might be well satisfied. In my 65 years of messing about with small boats, I’ve never paddled an inflatable boat of any kind and “try before you buy” is almost impossible, and so I’ve learned more from comments on this forum then from any other source and for that I’m grateful. Having said that, the now-discontinued Innova Twist 2 in Nitrilon Light at a bargain price of just $415 (plus shipping, buying some sort of pump and whatever else) is certainly worth consideration. And at about one foot longer than the Safari, it might even be just as much fun to paddle. It might be a good place to start even though I find myself returning, now and then, to the old Feathercraft website for a quick covetous glance at the Aironaut.


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 Post subject: Re: Inflatable choices
PostPosted: Tue May 14, 2019 7:08 am 
forum fanatic

Joined: Wed May 11, 2011 10:28 am
Posts: 57
Jake, I've read good things about CA based retailer The Boat People and indeed have used their website as a resource many times. It might be worth dropping them an email asking for recommendations based on the type of paddling you're looking to do as well as any concerns you may have over the lighter version of nitrilon - they're an Innova/Gumotex dealer (among other brands) so should be able to give you an informed answer

_________________
Barum Albatros
Gumotex Safari
Gumotex Sunny
Gumotex Scout


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 Post subject: Re: Inflatable choices
PostPosted: Sun Sep 01, 2019 12:09 pm 
forum fan

Joined: Sat Aug 10, 2019 2:08 pm
Posts: 24
Location: SoCal
Hi Jake,

I was in the same boat as you (no pun intended). The folders are getting heavier (my, how quickly the years roll by), but some of the developments in inflatable technology in the last two decades seem to have brought IK beyond the pool toys that I knew before. While I have had a couple of roll-up dinghies, with either slat or flat plywood floors over the years, I need different things from a kayak. On a whim, I bought an inflatable SUP a couple of years ago. Unfortunately, I found that I just don’t care to stand up paddle. I gifted the board setup to a good friend, and she uses it often, taking it with her on flights around the country as checked baggage.

So with that positive experience with drop-stitch tech, I started researching high pressure doubles that would fit my 2+ person family, be lighter than my folders, and setup quicker without trying to set speed records like the videos online. :roll: I found that http://www.airkayaks.com carries a wide variety of IK and has detailed, though somewhat overly positive, reviews of their products. I know that they are in the business of selling boats and therefore won’t focus on any negative aspects of a design, but with a little critical thought process, you can glean some good info from their written and video reviews.

I narrowed my choices to 3 boats: the Advanced Elements AdvancedFrame Convertible Elite, the Innova/Gumotex Thaya, and the Aquaglide Chelan HB Tandem XL. With none of these boats available in my area for test paddles, I had to rely on just my analysis of online information from AirKayaks and other online sources.

I think that the AE Convertible Elite may be the closest to a traditional touring kayak and might have the best performance, the seats look good, real foot pegs and rudder are available, the deck has pretty good coverage even when “open”, and the optional spray decks appear to be the most seaworthy. But the boat didn’t have the space to comfortably bring my 3yo daughter along, as well as being the heaviest boat of my 3 choices.

The Thaya looks like a good boat, was the lightest of my selections, and looks like it packs and transports well. The boat has relatively fixed paddling positions and fair looking seats. No foot rests or additional spray decks are available at this time. It is 2 feet shorter than the Chelan.

As you know from previous posts, I ended up with the AquaGlide Chelan HB XL. The longest of the 3, I’m of the school that length directly affects performance, and in this case, provides needed extra room. The infinitely adjustable seating positions, with a “jump seat” provided that should work well until my daughter can start really paddling, were a positive feature. The main seats appear to have good support and the foot rest are rudimentary, but better than nothing. The tracking fin looks to be the most substantial and I expect that it will should help with the paddling efficiency. The least expensive of my choices, I bought a package with pump, paddles, dolly, and both spray decks. The decks seem to be just ok, and not really needed for my intended usage, but I figured that it’s better (and cheaper) to get them now, in case I want them later, and it should make a better package if the boat survives to re-sale.

So that was my selection process and I’ll post more about how the Chelan is meeting my expectations as I get time on the water.

_________________
Kayaks: Folbot Super TSF w/ sailing rig, Klepper Aerius 2 tandem, CLC Chesapeake 17, Aquaglide Chelan HB Tandem XL
Sailboats: 1964 Cheoy Lee Bermuda 30 ketch, 1990 Farrier F-27F trimaran
Southern California


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 Post subject: Re: Inflatable choices
PostPosted: Thu Sep 05, 2019 12:16 pm 
knight of the folding kayak realm

Joined: Sat Feb 19, 2011 9:22 am
Posts: 421
Location: Coastal New Jersey
While yet to experience my first inflatable, I think I’m getting close. I’ve eliminated the New Gumotex Twist 2/1 as it doesn’t seem to be available through Innova in this country though, now that it’s constructed in Nitrilon, it might have been a good choice. Any boat with a beam too wide to permit the use of a paddle no longer than 220cm was also eliminated. I find longish paddles too unwieldy and anything longer than 220 is too long. At this point, I’m looking at just two boats, the Innova Safari 330 and the Sea Eagle Razorlite 393 with a bias toward the Safari. My selection criteria is simple: the boat should weigh under 30 pounds without compromising durability, the set up time, from bag to water, should be no more than ten minutes without the need for loud expletives that might scandalize grandmothers and young children within earshot, the boat must pack down into a compact size capable of easy transport unlike the awkwardly clunky duffle sack with shoulder straps that Feathercraft supplied with their otherwise superb boats. It should be able to move along in neutral conditions at about 3mph with minimal effort and, perhaps most important, the boat must be versatile and have a potentially high “fun factor”. I want an inflatable kayak that will be fun to paddle through the twisting labyrinth of a mangrove tunnel or a meandering Florida river and equally well playing in light surf breaking over an offshore sand bar at low tide. So far as swiftness is concerned, I’ve owned and paddled long, narrow kayaks and sufskis over the past thirty years but I’ve now entered the realm of the Ancient Mariner and, as I learned long ago, paddling hard enough to make a kayak go “fast” is hard work and that flies in the face of the before mentioned “fun factor”. Or, as my dear mother at times reminded me, I’m just plain lazy.

The Razorlite, both longer and more narrow than the Safari would, hands down, be much faster but with its total lack of bottom rocker would likely be way less fun in any kind of gnarly water. Maybe even scary. Drop-stitch construction will probably become the standard in inflatable kayak fabrication as it has in inflatable SUPs but, then, I’m not expecting the highest degree of rigidity so the Safari’s wimpy 3psi will likely be good enough. But, still, drop-stitch seems to be the new standard for inflatables of whatever stripe and I see that even Gumotex has began to go in that direction. Perhaps it might be worth waiting awhile to see which way Gumotex goes with DS though they’ve been making inflatable for fifty years and probably won’t go full speed on any new technology until it’s proven itself beyond a doubt.

So, there we are. As mentioned, I have a bias toward the Safari as a fun boat, competent enough in a variety of situations, light enough to make it highly portable, easy to inflate and a pleasurable boat to paddle. I think I need to call Lee at The Boat People and see if there’s anything I’ve missed. Im open to anyone's thought or opinions about the above mentioned boats.


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 Post subject: Re: Inflatable choices
PostPosted: Thu Sep 05, 2019 2:03 pm 
forum fan

Joined: Sat Aug 10, 2019 2:08 pm
Posts: 24
Location: SoCal
Hi Jake,

The Innova Twist 1 and 2 are readily available at http://www.airkayaks.com

https://www.airkayaks.com/innova/?sort=featured&page=2

I recently bought my AQ Chelan HB XL from them and received my boat and accessories within a few days of ordering. I found Holly at Air Kayaks to be helpful on the phone in picking a boat from my short list based on my planned use cases. I have no interest in the company, other than being a satisfied customer.

Like you, I consider that drop-stitch technology is the factor that has moved inflatables from “pool toys” to kayaks that are rigid enough to be efficient. Even at 15+ feet, the Chelan is pretty rigid, but my “on-the-water” opinion is still pending.

_________________
Kayaks: Folbot Super TSF w/ sailing rig, Klepper Aerius 2 tandem, CLC Chesapeake 17, Aquaglide Chelan HB Tandem XL
Sailboats: 1964 Cheoy Lee Bermuda 30 ketch, 1990 Farrier F-27F trimaran
Southern California


Last edited by ewdysar on Thu Sep 05, 2019 2:13 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Inflatable choices
PostPosted: Thu Sep 05, 2019 2:10 pm 
forum fan

Joined: Sat Aug 10, 2019 2:08 pm
Posts: 24
Location: SoCal
And in case you want to focus on high pressure (drop-stitch) kayaks only, the air kayaks website has a selection page for that...

https://www.airkayaks.com/hi-pressure/

or just kayaks under 30 lbs...

https://www.airkayaks.com/under-30-lbs/

_________________
Kayaks: Folbot Super TSF w/ sailing rig, Klepper Aerius 2 tandem, CLC Chesapeake 17, Aquaglide Chelan HB Tandem XL
Sailboats: 1964 Cheoy Lee Bermuda 30 ketch, 1990 Farrier F-27F trimaran
Southern California


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 Post subject: Re: Inflatable choices
PostPosted: Sat Sep 14, 2019 8:49 pm 
knight of the folding kayak realm

Joined: Sat Feb 19, 2011 9:22 am
Posts: 421
Location: Coastal New Jersey
Drop stitch construction has caught my attention and given me a few more boats to check out (at least as far as one can learn about any boat from an on-line website). The Razorlite 393 looked promising with its narrow width and low-windage but, at the stated weight of 35 pounds, it’s a bit on the weighty end. And the Razorlite seems to lack any apparent bottom rocker and it’s been my personal experience that kayaks lacking at least some fore and aft rocker tend to be difficult in rough water. Could be that this is a trade-off with high pressure, D/S construction. Or maybe it simply speaks to my lack of competent boat handling skills. Anyway, I struck the Razorlite from my list. Also took a peek at the Aquaglide Chelan 120 but at 44 pounds and a 36 inch beam it’s way too wide and much too heavy. The AE EVO is a good looking boat put together with drop stitch technology but, like the Feathercraft Java, it’s a hybrid and one must tinker with fussy aluminum tubes through the assembly and disassembly process and I’m just too lazy for that anymore. Bad enough that I have to assemble my Kurrent just once the day after we arrive on Anna Maria Island and take it apart a couple of days before heading home. Anyway, I really think that a decked boat adds a redundant complexity in the semi-tropical waters along Florida’s west coast. It’s not like the New Jersey Coast in November where a cockpit with a snug fitting sprayskirt are essentials to both comfort and safety. And toss in a good wet suit as well. And that is a good reason to spend the winter on the Gulf of Mexico. It’s all about reasonable compromise and, for me, that would be a tough and durable pure inflatable that can be made ready in less than ten minutes, dropped in the water where I can more or less simply fall into the seat and spend a couple of hours exploring mangrove tunnels or quiet bayous or playing the light surf and clapotis over the shoals that have formed in the Gulf at the mouth of the Manatee River. And for that sort of thing, I don’t know of a lighter, more durable, more versatile boat for the money than the Innova Safari 330. Of course, I’ve not yet paddled one and I can only hope that I’m right. Thanks for listening.
Jake


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